East coast fishermen fear plans for a second huge offshore wind farm will pose a major threat to their fragile livelihoods.
Hundreds of shellfish fishermen from Hornsea, Withernsea and Bridlington are already suffering from lower catch prices and soaring fuel costs.
Rising diesel prices mean fishermen are having to cut back on the distance they travel to fish to make the trips worthwhile.
But even the shorter trips could be out of bounds if they are not permitted to fish in the inshore areas where the wind turbines would be constructed.
Fishermen are concerned that if any safety problems arise, the Government could impose a blanket exclusion as a condition of planning permission.
The scheme is putting fishermen in Britain’s most important shell fishing area on a collision course with Dong Energy, which is planning the development.
Dong says fishermen who used the area – known as Westermost Rough, just five miles off Tunstall, near Withernsea – would be able to go into the wind farm area when it is up and running, but not within the 164ft of any of the 78 turbines.
The energy firm is inviting fishermen and residents to a series of meetings to view the controversial plans in Hornsea, Withernsea and Bridlington next week.
The other proposed offshore wind farm is the Humber Gateway Project, off Spurn Point, which involves 83 turbines.
Hornsea fisherman Rob Towers, 62, said: “Offshore wind farms are inevitable because the Government has green energy targets to meet.
“Our big worry is that we will be excluded from the area covered by the Dong wind farm and that disruption to the fishing grounds will make things harder for us.
“We are already suffering from massive increases in fuel costs and lower prices for shellfish, and it soon won’t be worth putting to sea.
“I know a number of fishermen who are putting their boats up for sale because of the present economic situation and we can do without any more problems.”
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have to keep fishing for crabs and lobsters because my white fish quota would earn me nothing and it would not be worth putting out the nets.
“What we need are assurances from the energy company and the Government that we will be left alone to carry on fishing when the wind farm is up and running.”
East coast fishermen’s concerns have been taken up by the National Federation of Fishermen’s Organisations (NFFO).
Dave Bevan, NFFO fisheries liaison officer, said: “Our members are very worried about wind farms, particularly Westermost Rough, because of its location.
“They are concerned as to whether they can effectively and safely fish within the wind farm when it is operating.
“Dong may work with the best intentions, but in the end the decision may not be theirs, but the Government’s.”
The NFFO has been negotiating with Dong, which wants to survey the seabed before submitting a planning application for the wind farm in the autumn of next year.
Kurt Jensen, project manager, said fishermen would be able to continue fishing in the wind farm area once the project is up and running.
He said: “We are trying to find a situation in the future where we can live together with the fishermen so all can benefit from the existence of the wind farm.
“We are not interested in any kind of war with the fishermen.”
People can see the plans from noon to 7pm at South Holderness Resource Centre in Withernsea on Tuesday, Hornsea Floral Hall on Wednesday and at Bridlington Spa on Thursday.
7 June 2008
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